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Tips on taking your dog for a hike during these cool temperatures amid the fall foliage

Tips on taking your dog for a hike during these cool temperatures amid the fall foliage

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If you love to hike and you own a dog, we hope you’ll consider bringing Fido along on some nature trail adventures during these wonderful autumn days.

The crunching of leaves underfoot and the crisp air, paired with the beckoning of trails once obscured by overgrowth are now able to be explored. Not only will your dog appreciate every sniff in which she gets to indulge but you get the benefit of extra company while out exploring the great outdoors.

If you decide to hit the trails, you’ll need to plan out if you will do a short and easy hike or a more difficult day-long journey, because your preparation and supplies will vary.

Before you lace up your hiking boots and spray on the bug repellent, it’s a good idea to consult with your vet, brush up on obedience training and trail etiquette, study and select appropriate trails for you and your dog’s ability and build up your dog’s stamina.

There are some questions you may want to ask your vet regarding the safety of your dog while on the trail. For example, does your dog need any specific vaccinations or preventative medicines before they head out for a day or a weekend of adventure? It’s also smart to freshen up on obedience training and trail etiquette and remember you need to maintain control of your dog at all times.

Keep the trail pleasant for those coming after you. It’s well known as “leave no trace” and on day hikes, always pack out any filled poop bags. It’s not recommended to leave poop bags by the trail for later pickup and if you’re worried about a breach inside your pack, just double bag the waste while on the trail, then remove any intact outer bags after you get home. You can also bury pet waste in a 6- to 8-inch hole that’s at least 200 feet away from trails, camps and water sources.

Enforcing the 200-foot rule for urination breaks isn’t practical but be prepared to interrupt things and move if your dog begins to pee in or next to a water source. It’s never too early to begin a training regimen and gradually ease into the routine of hiking.

Remember, a walk around the neighborhood block doesn’t provide near the challenges, change of terrain and elevation and isolation as a hike can. Start with hikes of an hour or so, then monitor the energy level afterwards. If your dog is still super active, increase the time for the next training hike. Your goal is to work up to the amount of trail time you plan to do on future day hikes or backpacking trips. This slow and steady approach also helps toughen up tender paws.

What about equipment? While you comparison shop for the right backpack for you, you’ll also want to plan accordingly for your dog, if you are wanting him to help carry the load. Get advice on the right fit and measurements, be mindful of how much weight your dog can carry and load it evenly. It can take some time for your dog to become accustomed to wearing a pack — so go slow.

Carefully plan the amount of food and water your dog will need if you are out for a few hours or all day. This is especially important on backpacking trips, when your dog needs more fuel and is likely to be the one carrying it.

Beware of trail hazards you may encounter. Think about water safety, as well as concerns about heat, crawly creatures, plants and pathogens. Know your trail regulations and always check on the rules for the areas where you’ll be hiking and keep your dog on a leash for everyone’s safety. If you are looking for locations nearby, our Pottawattamie County Parks are a great resource.

MHS Pets of the Week are brought to you by Omaha-Council Bluffs House Call Veterinarian:

Mystic, a 5-year-old spayed female husky is an energetic girl who loves everyone. She can be an escape artist so should be leashed or monitored closely when outside.

Mystic did test positive for Heartworms while at MHS and has recently been treated. She will need to be re-checked 30 days post treatment to determine if she will need anything further but can be adopted before then and can do her follow up with a partner vet clinic.

Bella is a 6-year-old spayed female wirehair pointer. She is a sweet girl who loves her walks and getting attention.

She has been diagnosed with a low thyroid which led to the hair loss found around her back and hips. She is doing great on a twice daily medication that helps bring those levels back to normal. Bella would prefer to be the only dog in her household so she can be queen of her castle.

Mary Puppins is a 4-month-old spayed female German shepherd/husky mix. This incredibly cute girl is ready to play and have some fun with her new family. She will be a high energy dog, so she needs a family that’s prepared to keep up with her.

She will benefit from puppy classes to help with her obedience and socialization skills.

Quavo is a 3-year-old neutered male pitbull mix. Quavo is a big guy with a lot of energy and love to give. He is very strong and does not seem to realize how large he is — so we recommend kids 12-years-old and over. He would benefit from an adopter who can help him learn some manners while on leash and more basic obedience skills.

Stop by to see these great pets and all their friends at the Midlands Humane Society. We are open Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday to Friday noon to 6 p.m. You can always see our available animals at

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